Audi is set to launch 16 pure- electric models by 2025 as part of a £35.7 billion investment designed to take on long-time premium rivals such as BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz and EV upstarts that include Tesla.
The huge model assault will start with the launch of the E-tron SUV in September, and the firm says it will have three EVs on sale by 2020.
The plan is called the Roadmap E Initiative and also encompasses autonomous tech. It was developed by now-suspended Audi chairman Rupert Stadler, who was arrested by German authorities in June on matters relating to Dieselgate.
A modified version of the existing MLB platform, used for large SUVs, will be employed for the E-tron and heavily related E-tron Sportback. Details of the E-tron models remain scarce, but they are expected to use two motors – one on the front axle and one on the rear – instead of the three-motor system from the concept. They will combine to offer 402bhp, a 0-62mph time of around 6.0sec and a range of about 250 miles. The E-trons will also be the first series- production EVs to feature 150kW charging, allowing them to be charged from empty to 80% in less than 30 minutes.
At a similar time, Audi also plans to launch a compact SUV, the first of three planned pure- electric models based on the VW Group’s MEB platform.
Just how advanced Audi’s plans for an MEB-based SUV model are was signalled recently by officials of Audi China, who confirmed a pure- electric version of the Q2 is planned to be launched in the Chinese market in 2019. The model expected to arrive in the UK in 2020 will use the same platform and drivetrain, but with a uniquely styled body and interior.
The bulk of Audi’s EVs will ride on a new electric architecture, named PPE, being developed in partnership with Porsche for the group’s premium models. Audi currently plans to base up to 10 E-tron models on the PPE architecture, including saloons, coupés, cabriolets and SUVs.
Audi is also ramping up plans for a wider range of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions of existing models, including the A6, A7, A8, Q5, Q7 and Q8. Due in 2021, these models will be capable of at least 31 miles of electric-only running. A line-up of more affordable PHEVs, based on the A3, Q3 and Q4, are also planned, according to sources.
At the same time, Audi is redoubling efforts to make autonomous driving technology a core feature of future models. Its R&D boss, Peter Mertens, has hinted that level-four driverless functions showcased on the Aicon concept car at last year’s Frankfurt show are already being tested in a fleet of prototypes in preparation for introduction on series- production models by 2025.
Mertens said the first autonomous EV, due in 2021, will be an “inter-urban shuttle with lounge character” running in a pilot fleet.